Not everyone expects Bank of America's decision to cull its roughly 6,200 branches by 10 percent to fuel a widespread "rationalization" of big-bank branch networks.

Some industry experts foresee expense pressures forcing closures reaching as many as 10,000 bank and thrift branches within the next few years.

DBRS, the Canadian ratings agency, is skeptical of dramatic near-term cutbacks. Beyond the JPMorgan Chase/Washington Mutual marriage, there's not much overlap in most newly merged big-bank networks, DBRS says.

Also weighing against shuttering offices is the role they play in facilitating and maintaining the ties branch officials develop with higher value customers like local businesses and, especially, wealth-management prospects — largely baby boomers who still prefer face-to-face contact.

"The large-scale rationalization of branches will likely occur," notes DBRS, "but will take place over an extended period of time."

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